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10 Purple Living Room Design Ideas

While these satellite settlements conformed to the Athens Charter aesthetic, they were in fact a new animal. The Athens Charter was premised on a transformation of existing cities, or the creation of independent new cities, and aimed to limit urban sprawl by building upward; the concept of the decen-tralized conurbation with multiple centers signaled an evolution in the con-cept of the modern city. The case of Toulouse highlights how changes in the ruling concept of economic modernization had powerful implications for ur-ban planning. It also shows that, although the Grands Ensemble would receive its coup-de-grace in 1973 in France, planners had already started to turn away from the Athens Charter by the early 1960s.

No one would contest the fact that many modernist settlements suffered from poor design and construction flaws. The mortal blow to the Athens Char-ter, however, came from the decline in popularity of mass housing in Western European states due to economic prosperity and housing policy, rather than from their inherent inferiority as a housing form. The mass housing programs had virtually eliminated the crippling housing shortages of the reconstruction years, and rising incomes allowed the private real estate sector to recover. In addition, high inflation encouraged home ownership, and a decline in growth rates made the ever-higher cost of mass housing unbearable for governments. They reacted by raising rents, restricting mass housing to lower-income house-holds, and aggressively promoting home ownership. The policy shift to pro-moting private home ownership was also accompanied by an exaltation of the single-family home with a garden as the best type of home. As a result, private construction increased, and the share of social housing as a total of all hous-ing declined dramatically between 1950 and 1970. The new housing settlements had been largely populated by young families, who were increasingly targeted by state-funded loan programs for buying single-family homes. Once they had left, the remaining population of modernist housing estates was increasingly made up of low-income families, including many who were marginalized be-cause they were unemployed or immigrants.22

The implications for modernist housing settlements were many. Their further production was limited or completely eliminated. The existing modernist high-density developments were badly maintained because their inhabitants could not afford to pay the high rents necessary to service them. Already stigmatized as social housing, their reputation worsened due to social problems arising from the preexisting marginalization of their inhabitants, such as unem-ployment and racial exclusion. Families gradually became dissatisfied with the small size of apartments designed in a context of shortage, further increasing the appeal of home ownership. The state eventually had problems leasing out all the apartments in them, compounding this financial problem and creating half-empty settlements. Popular culture may have contributed to the appeal of home ownership by bombarding consumers with enticing images of the Amer-ican dream. Sociologists’ and anthropologists’ rejection of the estates, based on a more informed assessment, completed the assault on the Athens Charter model.

Non-Western countries were attracted to modernism for significantly different reasons than Western countries. After all, the Athens Charter was formulated by predominantly European architects to address the problems of the mod-ern European city, whereas, as Sibel Bozdogan has pointed out, outside the West, “modernization was not a profound societal experience resulting from the nineteenth century ‘great transformation’ into an industrial, urban, and market-oriented order,” but rather, “an official program conceived and imple-mented either by colonial governments or by the modernizing elites of author-itarian nation-states that most of the time placed a high priority on architec-ture and urbanism as a form of ‘visible politics.’ ”23 Noyan Dinfkal employs the term defensive or reactive modernization. For new states, like Ataturk’s Turkey, and postcolonial states, like Brazil and India, modernism was a way of assert-ing their legitimacy to their own people and to the rest of the world.

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Non-European states had emulated European urban planning in their efforts to capture “modernity” long before the development of modernism and the Athens Charter. Prior to Ataturk’s rise, the late Ottoman Empire had already embarked on its own program of urban renewal in Istanbul in an effort to promote a new, modern image for the empire in a time of crisis.24 Associat-ing Westernization and modernization, it focused on acquiring the symbols of modernity. Sibel Bozdogan shows how Ataturk sought to advance social mod-ernization by endorsing and promoting a modernist architectural aesthetic, al-though she does not specifically deal with urban planning. Just as he believed Turks had to leave behind their traditional Islamic dress and wear Western fashions in order to become a rational, forward-looking people, so he believed they should turn their backs on traditional decorating and embrace the sleek, simple lines of modernist decorating. Bozdogan argues that Ataturk’s regime accomplished an “essentially ideological appropriation” of modernism, putting it to the service of his nation-building project.25

Similarly, Nehru entrusted the design of the Punjab’s new capital, in Chandigarh, to Western modernist architects because he believed that modernity offered an antidote to the “pitfalls of ancient identities” that had so recently torn colonial India apart into two independent states.26 Chandigarh was thus also an exercise in nation building. Two modernist plans for Chandigarh were pro-duced, the first designed by American Albert Mayer, an attempt to combine functionalism and a quest for beauty inspired by Camillo Sitte, and the second designed by Le Corbusier, based on Mayer’s plan but following a more strict interpretation of the Athens Charter. This second plan, which superseded the first, featured a separation of the different urban functions (living, working, recreation, and communication); a linear street grid; separation of different types of traffic; and the organization of residential areas into self-contained sectors. It was not, however, a “vertical city,” reflecting both the local dwelling culture and the preindustrial state of the Indian construction sector.27

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